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Congress
USACE Sandy levee repair

Water utilities prepare for bigger storms and rising seas.

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A U.S. Department of Agriculture research branch published reports on the consequence to farm income of eliminating direct payments and on trends in nitrogen used for corn. One of the debate points for the farm bill is whether to reduce “direct” payments — cash given to farmers based on fixed per-acre rates. The federal government […]

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Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, introduced legislation that would set up a federal water infrastructure financing program modeled after a program that provides low-interest loans for transportation projects.The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) would give priority to water and wastewater projects of national or regional significance, covering a gap in existing federal […]

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Sandy, the hurricane turned mega-storm that battered the United States’ East Coast earlier this week, could cost insurers $US 5 billion to $US 10 billion, while economic losses are estimated anywhere between $US 10 billion and $US 20 billion, Reuters reported. The increasing cost of natural disasters could pressure Congress to take action on climate […]

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This week, Circle of Blue will publish a water guide to the 2012 election. It will explain the presidential candidates’ positions on water, as well as point out various state and local initiatives related to desalination, financing and water supply. Look for it in the next few days. (Update 10/31/12: 2012 Election Guide.) Storm Warning […]

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The Government Accountability Office recommends that the two federal agencies that run the three main assistance programs for rural water systems better coordinate their application requirements. This would save rural communities time and money, the GAO says. Water-Energy The GAO also evaluated federal progress on the connections between water and energy. Having written five reports […]

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Three years into its agency-wide water efficiency and conservation program, the Interior Department has given itself a gold star and a pat on the back in an assessment report released last week. Ordered by Congress and shaped by Secretary Ken Salazar, the WaterSMART program is on track to meet its top goal of conserving 730,000 […]

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Four decades ago, national leaders talked about our duty and responsibility to cut water pollution–and about its costs.

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Congress adjourned until after the November elections, leaving quite a bit of work on the table for a short lame-duck session. In addition to anticipated debates about fiscal policy, there are a few water-related bills that might be considered at year’s end. In a hearing last week, Senate committee chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said she […]

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Sometime this week, the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 3409, which its sponsor, an Ohio Republican, has dubbed the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012. The bill would prevent the Interior Department from issuing regulations until December 2013 that might cut jobs in the coal sector or restrict the industry’s access to […]

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The U.S. government spent US$734 million on water-related activities in fiscal year 2011, according to a State Department report. This represents a 23 percent drop from the previous year, when US$953 million was spent. Roughly one out of every two dollars in fiscal year 2011 was spent on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. The annual […]

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A federal judge ruled that the Tennessee Valley Authority, a utility owned by the U.S. government, is responsible for a spill in 2008 of toxic waste from a coal-fired power plant. The Associated Press reports that in the next phase of the case, the judge will determine compensation for each of the more than 800 […]

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Sewage is discharged in the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland, Ohio in this 1973 photograph. The Clean Water Act, passed a year earlier, has improved water quality in many water bodies, but some communities still struggle to control water pollution from combined sewer systems.

Local government officials and utility leaders ask U.S. Congress to invest in water projects and to provide regulatory flexibility. The framework is part of a broader debate about how to balance ecosystems, public health and financial constraints, in this, the 40th year of the Clean Water Act.

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Revenue for the fund would come from taxes on containers and waste products.

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Before adjourning for a five-week vacation, the House of Representatives passed a US$383 million drought-relief bill, the Hill reports. To pay for it, farmland conservation programs will be cut. Critics say that this is short-sighted because these programs protect, among others things, the soil’s ability to hold moisture. “If Congress is serious about assisting farmers […]

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Climate change will have the greatest economic effect on crops in the Midwest’s Corn Belt states, where annual loses could range from US$1.1 billion to US$4.1 billion by 2030. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service used four climate projections, a crop-growth simulation, and a model for predicting how farmers would change their crop […]

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Two reports from federal research agencies suggest that sea-level rise along the coastal United States will happen quicker and surge higher than the global average. Combined with storm surges and tidal fluctuations, higher seas increase the flood risk for billions of dollars of property, as well as vital infrastructure such as roads, power stations and […]

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Some key programs identified in the draft, which was released earlier this week, are also facing budget cuts for the 2013 fiscal year.

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The state of Arizona has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. section of the agency that administers water treaties between the U.S. and Mexico, according to Nogales International. The lawsuit claims that the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission is violating the Clean Water Act by allowing untreated industrial wastewater to flow from Mexico into […]

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Top Ten Endangered Rivers

Leavening the imperiled areas from the latest “Endangered Rivers” report with a few bright spots.

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